Photo by G. Shamshyan
Last December, the Head of Police of Armenia Vladimir Gasparyan at the police headquarters’ meeting called those policemen who use beating to obtain evidence “butchers and weak-minded” and mentioned that it was better that the case be not discovered at all rather to be resolved with the use of such methods.
Four months later appointment of the former Head of Criminal Investigation Department Ashot Karapetyan in the position of the Head of Yerevan Police is greatly discussed in mass media, because his name was mentioned more than once in the context of allegations of beating and violence at police.
The latest famous cases were related to an activist of National Armenian Congress Tigran Arakelyan and supporter of Democratic Party of Armenia (DPA) Grisha Virabyan.
The Public Relations and Media Department of Police refuses to comment on circulating news about the newly appointed Head of Yerevan Police.
“It is ridiculous. I am not going to comment on that at all”- was the short and deviating answer of Ashot Aharonyan to questions of www.hra.am.
So it was not clear what was ridiculous - the fact that Virabyan had been subjected to torture, or that Ashot Karapetyan was among the policemen who tortured Virabyan? However, Aharonyan did not bring any contra-argument and did not say that the information was not true.
Later, in an interview to emedia.am Ashot Karapetyan stated that the circulated news were ridiculous and said that while in service he had not beaten anyone; otherwise “relevant authorities would have dealt with that”.
Whereas Grisha Virabyan, a resident of Brussels at the moment, confirmed the information in the interview given to 1in.am:
“On 24 April, 2004, the police summoned me to the police station suspecting of possession of weapon, I was subjected to provocations, the Head of criminal department cursed and hit me, and I, defending myself, hit him back. Then Ashot Karapetyan came and ordered to put handcuffs on me. He was among the first who tortured me”, and added that Karapetyan had psychological problems.
To remind that in 2004, a member of DPA, 44-year old Grisha Virabyan was severely beaten and tortured at the police station of Artashat, as a result his health condition significantly deteriorated.
A criminal case was instituted against Grisha Virabyan on “using violence against a representative of authority” (he was accused for hitting a policeman on his face with a phone charger), which was closed in August 2004.
It is worth a reminder that his complaint against policemen, who brutally beat him, and request to institute a criminal case was considered as groundless by the Prosecutor’s Office and was dismissed. The Prosecutor’s Office found that there was no abuse of power in conduct of the police officers and they just acted in self-defense. There was no even disciplinary proceedings against them.
Virabyan exhausted all local remedies and applied to the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR).
ECHR in its decision of 09.10.2012 satisfied the application “Virabyan vs. Armenia” and recognized a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court confirmed that Virabyan had been subjected to torture, detained unlawfully and the principle of the presumption of innocence was violated in his regard. The Court obliged the state of Armenia to pay 31 000 Euros in compensation, the big part of which is a compensation for moral damage.
“…When they (the two police officers who subjected the Applicant to beatings) left the room, another policeman-A.K. entered the room and started kicking me on my testicles with a metal object”, “A.K. (I learned his name and position from other officers after the incident) entered the room and started swearing at me, trying to humiliate me, twice spat on me and punched my testicles. Then] he kicked my feet several times and left.Before leaving he hit me again on my testicles with his keys. before beating me in the office, ordered everybody to leave, saying that he was going to abuse me”, these are experts from the testimonies given by Grisha Virabyan and incorporated in the text of the decision of the ECHR.
In light of the above mentioned it would not be inappropriate to remind the statement of the Head of Police Vladimir Gasparyan about policemen using beatings, made last December at the session at the Police Headquarters:
“We together agreed that evidence obtained through beatings should not happen. When you use force to obtain the evidence and investigate a case, then it means that you are weak-minded and your brains do not work, that you are not a professional but rather a butcher. Unfortunately, we still have such practice.
If a crime has to be investigated by means of beatings, it is better not to have it investigated this way. Beatings, acting like a butcher should be absolutely prohibited in the system. Obtaining evidence through beatings is not justified and is not human”, said the Head of Police.
We want to believe in the statements and assurances of the Head of Police regarding reforms in the law-enforcement system, however, professional advancement and promotion of the policeman, who tortured and was not hold accountable, do not fit into the context of the reforms.
After the 2012 decision of the ECHR when the fact of using torture was confirmed, instead of instituting disciplinary or criminal proceedings against the police officers who subjected to torture, one of them has been promoted. Isn’t it telling in full voice all about the attitude towards torture in the system?